We have just returned from a Tuscany Workshop and thought we would showcase some of our favourite images with a series of articles.

This image is rather “striking”, don’t you think? The geography of this region in northern Tuscany produces a lot of electrical storms, some with rain and some without. This was one of the dry lightning storms and it put on a spectacular and memorable show for us.

We had been eating dinner in a local pizzeria when I saw the clouds developing. After about an hour, we heard the distance sound of thunder and I decided we should leave the pizzeria immediately. Not for fear of our safety but because I knew the exact spot to gain a panoramic view of the storm. Also, I knew from experience that if there was going to be rain, we would only get a short time to get some images before we were drenched. It rains with suddenly and with aggression in this part of Tuscany. Thankfully, we did not get the rain and we spent over an hour, standing around in 19C taking a series of images while I demonstrated the best method for capturing lightning. The image above is an example of the technique.

It was lucky that we did move quickly from the pizzeria, because after a few lightning strikes, most of the floodlighting in the town shut down and left the cathedral (or Duomo as it’s called in Italy) in complete darkness. This had a profound effect upon the mood of the next images and we decided it would be better to try some zoomed shots to isolate the action. My thinking was to explain and show the technique in action and leave with a set of images that were not location specific. Having said that, anyone who has ever visited this part of Tuscany will immediately recognise the profile of the mountains.

What is not apparent from the image is that in between lightning strikes, the whole scene was in complete darkness. When lightning does strike, it is so fast and so bright that our eyes do not have the time to adjust and we simply see a flash of white. However, taking the time to set up a camera properly means that we can capture images that are rich in detail and tone. The air and clouds are cast with a lovely purple tone from the lightning while the contrast of the light accentuates the swirling storm clouds above.

In all, this was a wonderful result from an impromptu session which has resulted in some spectacular images as well as memories.